In the fast-forward blur of Atlanta’s food and drink scene, seven years seems like an eternity. Since Chef Linton Hopkins and Mixologist Greg Best teamed up to open this game-changing Southern gastro-pub in 2008, many things have happened.

The Brown Derby is a classic blend of bourbon and grapefruit that never lets you down.Add in the chicken-liver paté with cider gelee is a terrific nosh to go with the cocktails at Holeman and Finch Public House.

The Brown Derby is a classic blend of bourbon and grapefruit that never lets you down.Add in the chicken-liver paté with cider gelee is a terrific nosh to go with the cocktails at Holeman and Finch Public House.

Hopkins won a James Beard Award. The famous 10 p.m. double-stack cheeseburger is now a regular menu item. And Best—often regarded as the father of Atlanta’s craft-cocktail movement—has moved on to Krog Street Market, where he and fellow H&F alumna Regan Smith are trying to give birth to a much anticipated “restaurant concept.” So how is H&F holding up in the aftermath of so much change?

Lead bartender Kaleb Cribb has mastered the art of using fresh local ingredients in his cocktails.

Lead bartender Kaleb Cribb has mastered the art of using fresh local ingredients in his cocktails.

I idled in on a recent Saturday to find out and was not disappointed. Mercifully, there were no ravenous burger-questers howling like a pack of wolves outside the door. I encountered a fairly quiet space where couples shared bites, and the bar staff, led by Kaleb Cribb, exuded a welcoming attitude: Take your time. Have a look. No rush.

The house cocktail list was a romantic lineup of classics and original drinks showcasing housemade syrups (raspberry), shrubs (beets) and other concoctions. The Jamaican-rum based Love Is promised complexity (chicory liqueur, Fernet Branca, figand- anise sugar, pineapple, lemon, jerk bitters, an espresso salt rim)—perhaps too much so. El Diablo (tequila, cassis, lime, ginger beer) tempted. But ultimately, a classic Brown Derby beckoned, and Cribb nailed it. Hard not to slurp down his nicely nuanced mix of bourbon, grapefruit and honey.

As for the nibbles, Deviled Eggs Three Ways (on the menu for as long as I can recall), Creolespiced pecans and Hop’s Buttermilk Biscuit (tucked with Edward’s peanut-fed ham and apple butter) all sounded mighty appealing. I couldn’t resist a jar of unctuous chicken-liver pate, topped with a layer of sweet-tart apple-cider gelée, a nice fall touch. (Could somebody hand me a scoop?) I capped the night with a Howl, a nicely balanced seasonal libation made from a syrup of Georgia muscadines and rosemary, Cathead vodka, yellow chartreuse, hints of allspice and lime, served on a large rock. Delicious.

After all the hustle and bustle of H&F’s early days, it’s nice to see it has found an almost-mellow groove as a neighborhood bar with seriously good drinks and impeccable service. Tip of the Derby to Hopkins, Cribb and crew!

2277 Peachtree Road N.E.
404.948.1175
holeman-finch.com